“Do not do more today than you can completely recover from by tomorrow.” – Greg McKeown

Do you find it easy to pace yourself while working as a grant professional, nonprofit leader, or fundraiser?

Do you have time to complete all you want to do in any given day while also finding time to relax and enjoy the work?

Or are you overworked one week or month, and then have a lull in your schedule between crushing deadlines?

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about the importance of pacing ourselves in this profession so that we excel in, and sustain our careers, while also enjoying our days.

And so that we can avoid burnout. In “Can You Identify Burnout?” Trish Bachman, Bethany Planton, and Johna Rodgers shared that “a 2019 survey of grant professionals from across the country indicated that 84% of respondents suffer from the symptoms of burnout, including exhaustion, sleeplessness, fatigue, and poor concentration (GPA News, November 3, 2020).

As nonprofit professionals, we are always juggling multiple projects, grant deadlines, research prospects, reports and more…all of which seem to appear to be the highest priority of the day. So, pacing ourselves becomes increasingly difficult.

Full disclosure: I’m not an expert on pacing (except across the floor!), but I can share three tips that have worked for me, and I encourage you to contribute your ideas too.

  1. Planning. Apart from my monthly workplan, I create a much shorter daily plan using an extremely low-tech solution, sticky notes. I just write a list of 5 things that really need to be done today and circle the three that are most important. Then I allow a set amount of hours per day to work on just those three things. Repeat day after day. Does it always work? No, but it does set the intention and more often than not, I can stick to it (pun intentional).
  2. Pause. Take deliberate breaks. Rather than work past the point of productivity, go for a 30-minute walk instead or run an errand or chat with a friend. Hint: Spending time on social media does not count as a deliberate break – it needs to be time away from the computer.
  3. Power down. We need rest to keep up the with the demands of our profession. Both in the form of enough quality sleep but also daytime rest. For me that is often 10-20 minutes of meditation each day, sometimes first thing in the morning, sometimes in the afternoon when I’ve hit a wall, and sometimes not at all. We don’t need to strive for perfection when it comes to pacing ourselves or it defeats the point.

Keep in mind the words of author and podcaster Greg McKeown, “Do not do more today than you can completely recover from by tomorrow.” Or else you may be one of the 84% of grant pros that experiences the symptoms of burnout. It’s better to practice pacing or consistency in our work, than all-out all the time.

How do you pace yourself as a grant pro? Please share what’s worked for you…

Margit Brazda Poirier, GPC, M.S. is Owner and CEO of Grants4Good LLC®, a grant writing training and consulting company based in Rochester, New York.   www.grants4good.com and www.allaboutgrantwriting.com.

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margit brazada poirier

Hi, I’m Margit Brazda Poirier

I founded Grants4Good in 2009 to help nonprofit organizations and businesses find and get grants. Since then, I’ve helped thousands of people raise millions of dollars for programs via private coaching, customized grant writing training, and my course All About Grant Writing.

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